I recently watched A Christmas Carol (1984 version) and was struck by the beauty of Marley’s words, when he came back to warn Scrooge of endlessly chasing wealth above all things:
″‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!‘”
We are pulled incessantly towards wealth – work more, work harder, smarter, earn more money. But in the end, the purpose of life is to follow Jesus and become holy – to become a saint – and to help all those around you become saints so that you all may live with Christ in Heaven. That is the goal of life. Marley helps to make that all the more clear. He spent his life chasing wealth, attained it, became rich – and ignored the true purpose of life – helping our brothers and sisters in Christ become holy. His words are beautiful because they are so sad and perfect. We know he is right.
“‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. ‘I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?‘”
“I girded it on of my own free will.” We have the free will to decide the direction of our lives – it is up to us. What we do with our will – our lives – will determine what happens to our soul when we die.
“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused!”
Once you die, the Church teaches that you have no opportunity to change your judgment. You will be judged on how you lived. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven—through a purification or immediately—or immediate and everlasting damnation. (CCC 1022)”
Our Lady said to Saint Jacinta: “If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.”
Listen to Marley. Listen to Our Lady. We must live good now. This is our opportunity, this is our time. We must live good now.